Before you buy, check your expectations against reality. Standard-definition (SD) TV frequently acted as the great leveler with respect to video quality; it could make bad footage look better and great footage look bad. HDTV's more faithful reproduction capabilities place heavier demands on the capture device's resolution and color capacity, mercilessly rendering every blemish in flawed content but allowing the good stuff to really shine. So, here are five myths to keep in mind before you jump on the HD camcorder bandwagon. Myth #1: HD camcorder video is higher quality than SD.
If the only determinant of quality were resolution, this might be true. But, as with digital cameras, it takes a lot more than just sheer numbers of pixels to produce a good picture. The lens, the dynamic range of the sensor(s), and the image processing and compression algorithms can be far more important. Myth #2: An HD camcorder complements HDTV better than an SD model.
Don't confuse the resolution component of HD with its aspect ratio. Almost any camcorder these days can record wide-screen video if you simply want to fill up that 16:9 flat panel. Myth #3: If they cost the same, an HD model is a more future-proof choice than an SD model.
As the clash between Blu-ray and HD-DVD illustrates, being cutting edge does not insure against obsolescence, even in the short run. Furthermore, the only real way to stave off the future is to opt for the best video quality you can afford--you're less likely to become disenchanted with a great camcorder than a model bought because it was last year's media darling. Myth #4: If it's not HD, it's not cutting edge.
Plenty of technological change is happening in the camcorder category without limiting yourself to HD. A small and stylish chassis, the ability to record on flash media, and great still photography capabilities will all preserve your gadget mojo.